France is facing the imposition of a €115.5m (US$140.1m) lump sum fine from the European Court of Justice (ECJ), followed by recurring six monthly penalties of around €58m, for not enforcing mandatory fishing conservation methods.

The heavy penalties proposed by an ECJ advocate general Leendert Geelhoed will probably be approved by the full court, which usually follows these permanent officials’ advice. The lump sum would be imposed immediately, with the smaller penalties being withdrawn if France complies with European Union (EU) fishery rules on minimum mesh sizes, net attachments, by-catches, and the minimum fish sizes.

The fines are a little used power of last resort available to the court for member countries persistently flouting EU law.